LSU suspends two assistant ADs, promises action after ‘brutal’ report on response to sexual violence

Louisiana

“It will be hard to hear and even harder to read, but if we are to fix our future, we must first face our past,” interim LSU President Thomas Galligan said.

BATON ROUGE, La. (WWL-TV) — LSU suspended two assistant athletic directors without pay and ordered them to undergo domestic and sexual violence training after a damning report on the handling of sexual assault incidents was present at the school’s board of supervisors meeting Friday morning.

Assistant Athletic Directors Verge Ausberry was given a 30-day suspension without pay and Assistant Athletic Director Miriam Segar was given a 21-day suspension. 

The meeting and the report came after a series of investigative reports, largely by USA Today’s sports department, that detailed sexual assault incidents that were largely ignored or insufficiently handled over a series of years recently. 

Some of the events involved high-profile athletes. 

Hursch Blackwell law firm, a group charged with investigating allegations that LSU poorly handled or dismissed claims of sexual harassment and assault in recent years, delivered its report at the Board of Supervisors meeting Friday.

Among its findings were that LSU didn’t comply with Title IX obligations in many of the sexual assault allegations, they weren’t reported to the school’s Title IX coordinator and the school’s Title IX office has never been properly staffed or funded to handle its obligations on these types of incidents. 

LSU’s president, Thomas Galligan, described the report as a “brutally honest and objective evaluation of our culture” that will be “hard to hear and even harder to read.”

There are 18 recommendations for LSU to adopt in the report and Galligan said the university would act on “all of them.”

Prior to the presentation, Caroline Schroeder, a sexual assault victim who said she was attacked on a bus during an event by an LSU fraternity, slammed the board in public comment.

“I’d like to express how little faith I have in this board to do the right thing. This meeting was not called out of the goodness of your heart,” she said via Zoom.

Galligan said the report will detail that LSU through actions or inactions “betrayed the very people we are sworn to protect.”

“We have been forced to look into the mirror,” he said at the start of the Board of Supervisors meeting. “Frankly, we don’t like what we see.”

Cultural problems

The report details what many studies have shown, that sexual harassment takes place more often in environments where it is tolerated and where that behavior is “modeled or encouraged by others.”

The report says that LSU Athletics Department employee Sharon Lewis, who worked in the football office, made several reports of sex harassment during her tenure. 

Among them were several allegations against former LSU head coach Les Miles between 2009 and 2016.

The report emphasizes that Miles has denied all allegations and that they can’t offer an opinion on whether the allegations are true or not, but among Lewis’ allegations was that after losing the 2012 national championship game, Miles attempted to sexualize the staff of student workers in the football program by allegedly demanding “blondes with big boobs” and “pretty girls.” Lewis, the report says, alleged that Miles then took a more direct role in hiring those student workers. The report says Lewis’ account was corroborated by several witnesses.”

Accusations about Les Miles

Lewis detailed that after Miles had taken more control on the selection of female student workers, one of them came to her “very upset about something that happened when she was alone with Coach Miles.” Lewis said the student asked for assistance in confronting Miles and another longtime football operations employee recalled the meeting where Miles was confronted “The child had a dead stare… she kept saying over and over, ‘You know what you did to me.'” 

Lewis echoed that account, according to the report, describing the interaction with the student as “emotional and traumatic.”

Following the incident, the report says that former Athletics Director Joe Alleva issued directives to Miles to refrain from contact with student workers and set up training for all athletics employees on topics that included sexual harassment. 

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